PSV AND MILAN are set to lock horns in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.
PSV lifted the trophy in their glory days back in 1988 while Milan are seven-time winners and their latest triumph came in 2007 versus Liverpool in Athens.
The last time these two sides met in a competitive match it was 2005 and Milan emerged victorious in a 3-3 aggregate result, thanks to an away goal by Massimo Ambrosini. Current PSV manager Phillip Cocu was in that losing PSV side but now he has created a very young and promising team who are inferior to no one.
Here is PSV’s probable line-up (4-3-3)
Zoet; Arias, Burma, Rekik, Willems; Wijnaldum, Hiljemark, Maher; Bakkali, Locadia, Memphis.
PSV have a good defense in Eredivisie. So far they have conceded 2 goals in their opening three games so their defense looks unchanged. Hiljemark might be preferred over Schaars to play in midfield alongside Skipper, Wijnaldum and Maher.
A month ago Bakkali was an unknown player to many but now the Belgian attacker is seen as one of the most exciting prospects in the Europe. He forms a formidable force with fellow attackers Memphis and Locadia. Memphis had a fine game this weekend against Go Ahead Eagles but both Locadia and Bakkali rested to face Milan (Bakkali remains in doubt). PSV have scored 11 times in just three games, Bakkali and Wijnaldum are their top goal scorers with 3 goals each.
Massimiliano Allegri needs to pick a very attentive starting 11 to face PSV who play more like Barcelona and Arsenal. Short passing, through balls and clinical finishing is the trademark of this PSV side.
Here is Milan’s probable line-up (4-3-3)
Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Poli, De Jong, Montolivo; Boateng, Balotelli, El Shaarawy.
Milan defense needs to be rock solid against the defiant PSV attack. Any error would cost them a lot. Montolivo and Poli can be placed on both sides of De Jong to provide the midfield traffic for the PSV forwards. It’ll include the surveillance of Bakkali and Memphis. Both midfielders can play some diagonal passes to the Milan forwards. Montolivo’s deft passing would be the key to decide Milan’s destiny. De Jong needs to keep an eye on any intruder looking to invade Milan’s territory.
El Shaarawy will use his tricks of trade on the left side of the pitch while Boateng can play a free role between midfielders and forwards. In attack Milan largely rely on Balotelli and an instrumental performance is required by Balotelli in front of 35,000 jeering PSV fans and hopefully he’ll deliver the much-needed away goal.
Surely PSV are not a favorable opponent for any top team but we can’t underestimate this rejuvenated Milan side and an expected 2-1 would be a fair result.